Youth Hunters Take on Turkey Season at Aberdeen Proving Ground
While many turkey hunters had some good moments this season, nothing compares to the first time a hunter tags a tom. And while it may seem like forever ago for the seasoned veteran, some kids over at Aberdeen Proving Ground got their first tom during Maryland’s Youth Turkey Hunting Days in April.
Youth Days are a state-wide, weekend-long event in Maryland where hunters 16 years and younger get to begin turkey season just before the regular season starts. The youth hunts were conducted April 17-18. The U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) is one of the many installations that offers this opportunity to a new generation of hunters.
APG is the Army’s oldest active proving ground, established in 1917 in northern Maryland. APG boasts a wide range of outdoor recreational activities, including recreational and commercial fishing and crabbing, waterfowl hunting, trapping and, of course, turkey hunting.
On April 17 of this year, youth hunters, who have proven time and time again to be among some of the most eager to get outside, spearheaded the turkey season at APG, a week before the regular turkey season commenced. While many children clearly accomplished a number of personal firsts, the facility itself experienced a series of firsts, too.
The launch of this year’s turkey season marked APG’s first hunting season using iSportsman, an online recreational management service that promises to improve efficiencies for hunters looking to check in and check out of hunts at APG, as well as improve safety for everyone recreating at the proving ground. And while natural resource and wildlife law enforcement officers were eager to flex the new digital features that APG has adopted, the youth hunt was a way of testing the water before releasing all the new features in full effect for the regular season.
“The kids were so excited,” says Deidre DeRoia, director of the Environmental Division at APG. “Plenty of kids went home with decent-sized toms in the 20–pound range.”
And while the kids were eager for Youth Day, so were the older generations.
“The older hunters are very supportive of Youth Days—we even have hunters who volunteer to take other parents’ kids out. After all, the main goal of Youth Day is to introduce younger generations to outdoor recreation. I think the youngest kid we’ve had out on Youth Day has been six years old!”
With the action for Spring 2021 is just about wrapping up, this year’s turkey season is bound to be one of the most memorable for APG. This turkey season will pave the way for APG to launch all of its new iSportsman management features in the autumn of 2021.
Many seasoned hunters are glad to see the considerable amount of interest that young people have in turkey hunting. It is, after all, a great time to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. And as hopeful as they were to see all of the youth hunters score on a gobbler, they were also hoping they’d leave a few for them to hunt when their opportunity rolled around.